Two college students and a non-profit will seek a restraining order tomorrow to prevent electronic voting machine vendor Diebold Systems from using the DMCA to plug a leak.
Diebold has threatened several websites with the 1998 Act to prevent them publishing a large number of internal memos from the company's technical support database.
The two students hosted the memos at Swarthmore College, PA., which was one of several sites which received a threat from Diebold. Diebold says that the memos reveal copyrighted information and therefore fall under the DMCA. Tomorrow's case is likely to be a prelude for a case which will determines whether a public interest defence can trump copyright.
The documents cover some chaotic backroom scenes at the 2000 Presidential Election count involving machines from Global Elections System (now Diebold) One from a Volusia County, Florida employee appeals for help:
I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16022 when it was uploaded. Will someone please explain this so that I have the information to give the auditor instead of standing here "looking dumb". I would appreciate an explanation on why the memory cards start giving check sum messages. We had this happen in several precincts and one of these precincts managed to get her memory card out of election mode and then back in it, continued to read ballots, not realizing that the 300+ ballots she had read earlier were no longer stored in her memory card . Needless to say when we did our hand count this was discovered.
Any explantations you all can give me will be greatly appreciated.
Lana [Hires] [More here]
The EFF and a Stanford law school are backing the two students and the Online Policy Group, a non profit founded by the EFF's media relations director Will Doherty.
"Instead of paying lawyers to threaten its critics," said the EFF's legal director Cindy Cohn in a statement, "Diebold should invest in creating electronic voting machines that include voter-verified paper ballots and other security protections."
The EFF hopes that the DMCA's safe harbor provision will apply. This gives ISPs the right to restore material. An educational institution can in some circumstances be exempt from copyright infringement liabilities. ®